Back on Tap
Despite the cheap ridicule ofMarty De Berghi’s movie This Is Spinal Tap, the band are as potent a musical force as ever they were. Trevor Johnston had the honour of tuning into the thoughts of David St Hubbins and Derek Smalls.
Recently discovered by chance in an attic. the original 1961 demo of‘All The Way llome‘. Nigel Tufnell and David St llubbins's first songwriting collaboration. finally sees the light ofday on Spinal Tap's brand new release. Break Like The Wind. They were two hungry kids. fresh from the streets of London‘s Squatney. but today they’re living proof that you don't have to live fast or die young to earn a lasting place on the pages of rocks rich tapestry.
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There are great individual moments throughout
the Tap discography. in records like Brainhammer. Intravenous De Milo. the concept set The Sun Never Sweats and the unfairly
maligned Shark Sandwich. but it was undoubtedly
their 1984 Polymer Records release Smell The Glove and Marty De Berghi‘s accompanying on-the-road ‘rockumentary‘. ifyou will. that did most to rescue the band from the file marked Where Are They Now?
And ifthe film highlighted the lighter side of the metal lifestyle. De Berghi still refused to shrink from the vein of tragedy that has hovered over the Tap's drumstool from the beginning. In a series of bizarre accidents. sticksmen ‘Stumpy' Pepys. Eric ‘Stumpy Joe' Childs and Mick Shrimpton have all joined John Bonham and Keith Moon in that great drum riser in the sky.
Fittingly. it's Mick Shrimpton‘s younger brother Dick who beat off all opposition to become the rockmeisters‘ latest world-class skin-basher. and this recent line-up change marks the beginning of yet another new age for the rockers who just keep on rolling — even if it has taken them half a decade to resurface after their last spurt of air-punching activity.
Tracking down frontman David St Hubbins (vocals and guitars) and rhythm king Derek Smalls (bass) to an exclusive London hotel. I began our
chat by asking them why it‘s been so long between
the Smell The Glove tour and the current project.
David St Hubbins: Well. we went quite thoroughly away. There'd been a lot ofsquabbling over a very bitter experience we had in Japan. where we tried to kick off the first leg of a planned world tour. Sadly. it turned out to be a one-leg tour.
Derek Smalls: The logistical problems were terrible. I tried for eight months to get back. and in the meantime developed my interest in orientalia.
DStH: Oriental tail. more like. Anyway. it was a
disaster. We ended up not wanting to talk to each other for a while. and the while turned into five years. We got separated geographically.
Nigel, I understand, retired to Kent to work on his revolutionary design tor a neckless guitar. What did the rest of you getup to?
DS: I went on the road with a (‘hristian rock band called Lambsblood. Quite well-known on the tent circuit. We did the Monsters ()fJesus festival in Orange ('ounty.
DStIl: The only Brit in the band. weren't you‘.’
DS: That‘s right. The only Brit. and the only devil worshipper.
DStH: ()nly bass player too.
Your most recent British pertormance was at a benefit gig lor Amnesty International. How did you get involved?
DS: Well. amnesty is ofcourse my birthstone. so I had to take it seriously. and we were already in London because we had tickets for The Hunting ( )f The Snark.
DStll: Deep down. though. we regard ourselves as prisoners of rhythm. so we believe in the cause.
DS: Ever more now. Now that we‘ve actually thought about it.
The original cover art tor ‘Smell The Glove' courted some controversy. Do you think the lyrics on the new
UN FOLLOWING PAGES: DAISY CHAINSAW O THRUM O CHICK COREA
; album again cross that thin line trom sexy to sexist? i DStH: We‘ve heard comments that the single
5 ‘Bitch School‘ is sexist. But ifyou listen you’ll
; realise it‘s really about training dogs. We‘re just
7 dog lovers. you know. Listen to a lyric like ‘You're
i so fetching when you're down on all fours'. how can anyone misconstrue that?
I gather you weren't happy with Marty De Berghi’s
; film about you in the end...
DS: We‘re not saying it was a hatchet job.
‘ DStH: We‘re not saying it made us look stupid.
DS: We‘re not saying Josef Goebbels would have envied it as a piece of propaganda.
DStH: No. we don‘t need to say any of that because it‘s self-evident in the movie itself.
DS: That wasn‘t. this is. We‘re in the 90s now. and we're not going back.
DStH: Yeah. what we‘re saying now is that this really is Spinal Tap.
DS: But ifyou rent the video. we get another eleven cents apiece. so. you know. I wouldn‘t entirely. like. avoid it.
i DStH: That‘s after you‘ve bought the new album. ofcourse.
‘ Break Like The Wind is released by M CA Records on 30 M are/z.
' mus. '13:"2'6 March 199335